Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Say what?

Apparently, Time-Warner is planning to spend $25M on advertising the DVD for the moderately successful (and surpriginly good) Horton Hears A Who, with the idea that its target audience is, you know, addled (either from having children or being children). No, that's not it. It's that they have the book, so they'll want the movie.

Well, okay. I like the movie, but I barely associate it with the book. No loud-ass blockbuster Jim Carrey flick is on the same plane as a book. Not saying better or worse, just not comparable. But, okay, that's just me. Others doubtless go, "Ooh! A movie based on a book! That I've read!" and snap it right up.

OK, so with a $25M ad budget how much are pricing these at in order to move those puppies?


Say what? My initial shock was ameliorated somewhat when I realized that that was the "retail price", i.e., the price you pay at the convenience store for, you know, convenience, and that the real price will be somewhere in the $20, probably $15-25.

Still, I have to wonder if they've really worked out the curve on this.

My first "real" job was for Paramount Home Video. I was customer support. I don't mean that I worked in customer support, I mean that I was customer support. And it was a part time job. (The other part of the job was accounting.)

At this time, it was commong for videos to cost $40-$50, or about 30 gallons of gas, if you want to scale for inflation. (What? What do you mean that doesn't work?) Anyway, it amounted to over $100 in modern "fun-time bucks", or whatever we're calling greenbacks today. You could pay $100 for a copy of Gator Bait, or other movies that were "priced to rent".

Not long before I got there, some genius at Paramount had figured out that if you sell a video for $20, instead of $40, you sold a whole lot more videos. In fact, they had launched a big promotion with Pepsi and (I think) Burger King, in conjunction with that modern classic Top Gun (dir. Tony Scott).

And they had, for the first time, sold over one billion copies of the Tom Cruise/Val Kilmer love story.

What? OK, one million copies. But they sold 'em lightning fast. And they sold another million pretty damn fast as well.

Over the years, prices have dropped both on the tag and in real dollars. I don't know about y'all, but that makes me very inclined to pick a movie up casually. $7 for the Bedazzled remake? Worth it just for Elizabeth Hurley's 14 outfits. (And she's the weakest part of that movie!)

I've noticed that the HD--well, not anymore, but the Blu-Ray movies are back up to $30 and $40. Whoa! Shock to the system! Since a big part of the high-def push is to find ways to lock content down, you might think they'd use marginally higher prices (on the newer stuff that actually benefits from high-def) while keeping older classics at the same prices (or even lower!). That would be a very compelling argument for getting a new player.

Then they could sneak in whatever dastardly content protection they wanted.

Unfortunately, they are the greediest of the greedy. They fought VCRs tooth and nail, and when they lost that battle, they made billions off the VCR. They really feel that not only do they deserve to charge you $40 for a movie that was made before any of them were born, but that the laws of the land should be changed to make it so that they can charge you whatever they want long after their bones are dust.

Of course, the bandwidth for truly high-high-high def stuff isn't out there. You can't get a computer to deliver it. But now that the cat is out of the bag that you're not actually getting it when you pay for it, from your cable/sat/etc company, it'll be intriguing to see how it all plays out.

Oh, and the $30 for Horton. Well, when I worked there, one of the most expensive movies we had that wasn't rent-to-own was The Godfather. You needed two video tapes, and it cost about $70 bucks ($150 or so today). Cost to Paramount to make those tapes? $2.62.

DVDs are even cheaper, however you measure.


  1. I don't know about y'all, but that makes me very inclined to pick a movie up casually.

    Definitely. I can't believe anyone would pay the extra for HD but that "Home Theater" type stuff doesn't float my boat anyway.

  2. Actually, I did do the home theater thing, like, ten years ago. DVD and 6.1 surround sound, but there's a problem:

    You really don't want home theater in any situation where you're not sitting down and watching a movie. I've got one TV and not really interested in getting another, so it was just annoying 95% of the time.

    If my next house has a pre-made home theater then that's something else. Even if you have a separate room and all that, you want to be interruption free, and that just doesn't happen around here. (That's why I go out to the movies all the time.)


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